Thursday, 19 August 2010

Easy Lunch for One Person (Couscous with Eggplant)

Being alone at midday, I wanted to cook something fast and simple and so this is what I came up with:


1/2 cup of couscous
1 medium sized eggplant
1 onion
1 tomato
dry mint
2 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil

Bring one cup of water to a boil, take it off the fire and add the couscous. Cover the pot and let the couscous do its magic. Peel the eggplant and cut it into four long pieces. Chop the onion and the tomato.

Heat the olive oil in a pot and fry the eggplant and onion until they are a bit golden on the outside, then add half a cup of water, the tomato, salt, mint and cinnamon, turn to low heat, cover and let the vegetables steam for some time. In the meanwhile check back on your couscous and if it already absorbed all the water add salt and a bit of olive oil or butter. When the eggplant is nicely soft and has absorbed the nice flavors of its companions, your food is ready. You could serve this with a bit of Greek yogurt, some slices of cheese or a little salad if you like.

(This last photo I made using some little light that leaked through the window and made the food look nicely dramatic :P )

Delicious Pasta Sauce with Pumpkin

Hello, hello,

Yesterday I made some really tasty pasta sauce out of pumpkin and some other veggies. My husband coincidentally brought home some slices of pizza, so we had a rather Italian day, I'd say. :) Be sure to only boil the pasta once the sauce is almost ready, because in my case the pasta got cold, waiting for the sauce to finish. OK, so here it goes:

What you need (for two people):

Pasta of your choice
2 1/2 - 3 cups of pumpkin, peeled and cut into cubes.
1 onion
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
2 tomatoes
2-3 garlic segments
a bit of ginger
Herbs of the Provence, or other dry herbs
A few leaves of fresh rosemary
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp of cinnamon
1/2 tsp of cumin
1-2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
Some water

How you make it:

Chop the vegetables (the onions and peppers should be rather finely chopped). Heat the oil in a pot or pan and fry the onion and pumpkin for a bit later adding peppers and tomato.

Add enough water for the pumpkins to boil nicely, but don't put too much, as this is not supposed to be a soup. Anyway, the pumpkins absorb a lot of water, so don't worry if it looks like too much. If all the water dries out before the pumpkin is ready just add some more. When the sauce boils turn the heat to lower medium letting it boil around peacefully.

After some time add the chopped garlic and ginger, the herbs and the spices and let it boil until the pumpkin is soft enough to be easily mashed with a fork (which you should do to some of the pumpkin pieces to give a creamier consistency).

Now your sauce is ready to be served on top of your pasta!
Enjoy and experiment with your own variations of this tasty vegan sauce.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Homemade Peanut butter

OK, long time no recipe-posting from me, sorry.
Right now I am avoiding milk-products and egg and was wondering "what do vegans eat with their bread?".
I don't really mind eating a slice of bread with just tomato or cucumber, but without butter it does taste dry and boring.
Of course there is hummus and other vegan spreads I know of (and like) but I didn't want to make something time consuming like that, so I searched in the internet and mainly found ideas like making a sandwich with "XY's fake vegan meat no. Z".
I am not sooo into this products + most of them are absolutely unavailable here, so I discarded those ideas right from the start.
Then someone suggested: "peanut butter!"
It's been years since I ate peanut butter the last time, it must have been in 1997 or something, so I was interested and started to search for recipes to see if I could save some money by making it myself.
All recipes I read gave the same instructions which I am going to share with you here (with the amounts I used):


ca. 3 1/2 cups of raw peanuts
ca. 3 Tbsp. of olive oil (in the recipes I read they use peanut or canola oil)
Salt to taste

So this is how you do it:

Roast the peanuts on low heat with or without the inner brown/red peel (as you prefer) until they become toasty-golden and oily looking.
Blend the roasted nuts, oil and salt in a blender or food processor until the mixture reaches the right consistency and ready!
Try adding the oil a spoon at a time, because you might need less or more oil to get it as you like it.

It took me some extra effort because our peanuts had gotten ant-infested and I had to handpick all the still edible peanuts but it was well worth the time!
I was really amazed when I tasted it and realized that the flavor is identical to store bought peanut butter!
And the preparation is easy and fast!

So I hope you all enjoy this recipe and don't forget to share your vegan bread spread recipes with me ;)

Friday, 7 May 2010

Semmelknödel with Lentils

This recipe I first posted on The Great VEGA'N VEGETARIAN Project.
Now that I finally made my own recipe blog I am posting it here.

Semmelknödel with lentils are a very classic combo and I, like many other Austrians, grew up with this dish (even though some might combine it with meat or sausages).
Traditionally you use a kind of bread called “Semmel”, but you can really use any hard, dry (old) bread that absorbs some liquid, my mother even made it from whole wheat bread once.
This lentil recipe is far from being anything traditional though, as I used very un-austrian spices and instead of the cilantro I added to the dumplings, one would normally use parsley, but hey, I am in Colombia here :)


For the lentils:
2 cups of green lentils
4 cups of water
1 tbsp of vegetable oil
1 tbsp of Pickling spice (mustard, coriander and dill seed, laurel chillies, allspice, cloves and fenugreek) or any other spices you like
1 red onion chopped
1 tomato cut in cubes
1tsp salt
1 tbsp soy-sauce

For the dumplings:
8 cups hard, dry bread cut in cubes
3 cups milk
3-4 cups flour


After soaking the lentils in plenty of water for at least an hour or two (you might want to change the water every once in a while) take two cups full and strain them in a sieve washing them a bit under running water.

Put the lentils into a pot with four cups of water, cover with a lid and bring to a boil, then turn back to medium fire.
Lentils sometimes overflow, if this happens try to open the lid slightly or turn down the heat a bit.

In the meanwhile cut the bread into cubes, or if you have ready-made bread-cubes pour them into a bowl. Add some salt (I used around 1 tsp).

When the lentils are soft (the time it takes depends on how long you soaked them. Here it took around 15-20 minutes) remove them from the heat and strain them. You may want to wash them again, in favor of your digestion.

Heat a saucepan with 1 tablespoon of oil.
When the oil is hot enough add the onion and a bit later the tomato.
Let the vegetables fry for 1 or 2 minutes on medium heat.
Stir every once in a while, so they don’t burn.

Add the lentils and some water, spices and soy-sauce and mix well.

Here it took only around ten minutes until the vegetables were soft and the lentils starchy and flavorful.
You can wait for them to be ready and turn them off, or prepare the dumpling dough in the meanwhile.

Prepare a pot (“the bigger the better”) with lightly salted water. Bring it to a boil.

Add the milk to bowl of bread. Mix carefully, so that all the bread gets soaked, but the cubes don’t fall apart too much.

Add some chopped cilantro leaves and the flour, one half cup at a time, to get the consistency right.
Always take rather too much than too little flour, as too little might make the dumplings fall apart later when boiling. But don’t overdo it, the dough should still be a bit wet and sticky, but not be liquid (you need to be able to shape balls with your hands)

Make sure the water does not boil too wildly, as that might cause the dumplings to fall apart.
If necessary adjust the fire.
Make your hands wet and shake off the excess water, this will keep the dough from sticking to your hands.
Take some dough into your hand and shape it into a round ball, squeezing out eventual liquid.

Carefully drop the dumpling into the water and wait a bit, too see if it falls apart.
If it does, take the ruined dumpling out of the water with a little metal sieve (or any other way you can think of) and add more flour to the dough.
You might feel more comfortable starting out with a lot of flour already, to rule out any chance of this happening.
It is generally hard to predict an exact amount of required flour, because every bread is different and absorbs a different amount of liquid.

When you made sure that the test dumpling doesn’t fall apart after 10-20 seconds add some more dumplings, making sure to wet your hands before shaping every single one of them.
Don’t overcrowd the pot, the bigger it is, the more dumplings you can cook at a time.
You may have to adjust the temperature several times, to keep them in a steady but not too strong boil.
After around 10 minutes they should be ready, but to make sure you can take one out of the water and cut it in half.
In this picture you can see, that in the center of the dumpling, there is still some “raw” part.
If your dumpling looks like this, give the others some extra minutes.

You are now ready to serve!
(In the picture you can see that I served it with slices of raw tomato, some leaves of cilantro and “suero costeño” = coastal style Colombian sour-cream)